The Best of the Best Portable Applications for 2012

December 29, 2012

Another year goes by and another edition of  “The Best of the Best Free Portable Applications” sees the light.

This year you will find most of the same portable apps that were already featured in 2011. One notable change however is the absence of Chrome, that although  started the year very strong, it later suffered from many performance issues that prevent it to take the lead from its main competitors, Firefox and IE. Those were the kind of issues that for example would make a web page render perfect in all major browsers except in Chrome, bringing back memories of the much-hated IE6. Therefore this year we have decided to give back to Firefox the “Best Portable Browser” Award , mainly because of its reliability, and the great extensions that make it the perfect companion for designers and developers alike.

2012 has seen some incredible developments in terms capacity of USB drives, like the new USB 3.0 Flash Drive from Kingston Digital that can hold up to 1TB of storage and made its debut at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show. That’s the  kind of capacity allows you now to carry around not only your portable applications, but fully featured operating systems, with a complete suite of programs, like this year’s starred package, BackTrack Linux, the Penetration Testing and Security Auditing Linux Distribution.

As always, all applications in this list are available free of charge. No shareware, demos, 30-days trials or any other commercial venues either. Also note that this list has been made from a Web Design and Development point of view, so if you are into business applications or some other field, you may find some of them of not much use for your every day tasks. But since they’re all completely free, you may want to try them out anyway.

Best Portable Browser

firefox-logoMozilla Firefox is fast and leaves no personal information behind on the machine you run it on, so you can take your favorite browser along with all your favorite bookmarks and extensions with you wherever you go. Among those extensions is Firebug, that integrates with Firefox to put a wealth of development tools at your fingertips while you browse, allowing to edit, debug, and monitor CSS, HTML, and JavaScript live in any web page.

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Best Portable e-mail Client

Mozilla ThunderBird A very complete e-mail client that comes with every feature a regular user may need and works quite well. A simple and friendly interface helps coming to grips with this program that supports many protocols including SMTP, POP3, IMAP4, NNTP and RSS, and whose functionality can be extended with the use of plug-ins.

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Best Portable FTP client

FileZilla A fully-featured FTP client that is fast and highly reliable FTP client with lots of handy features. FileZilla supports some very nice features resume on both downloads and uploads, timeout detection, firewall support, SOCKS4/5 and HTTP1.1 support, SSL, SFTP and much more, all within an intuitive user interface.

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Best Portable Text Editor

NotePad++ Portable Not only the best replacement you can find for that clumsy NotePad application that comes with all Windows computers by default, but also the best companion for those who deal with large chunks of text on a regular basis. Among its nicest features are Syntax Highlighting and Syntax Folding in C, C++, HTML, ASP, Java, Pascal, CSS and others.

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Best Portable Image Viewer

IrfanViewPortableIrfanView Portable Tiny, fast and able to read and write just about any image format imaginable, including those pesky .ico favicons. Some basic editing functions allow you to crop, rotate, adjust colors and do a little retouching. Other advanced features include batch conversion, slideshow creation, support for Adobe Photoshop Filters, etc.

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Best Portable Image Editor

GIMPPortableThe Gimp It’s a little known fact that The Gimp can do for free just about all that costly Photoshop can, and then some more, like advanced batch image processing, and the ability of being portable. Just don’t let the unusual interface put you off. Once you get used to its way of handling things you’ll find yourself reaching high levels of productivity and focusing on the production issues that really matter.

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Best Portable Vector Editor

inkscapeInkscape Also little known is the fact that Inkscape can do for free just about all that costly Illustrator can, and then some more, such as its superb handling of .svg vectors, and the ability of being portable. Inkscape supports many advanced SVG features, such as markers, clones, alpha blending, etc., that are much needed when creating icons for mobile applications, for example.

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Best Portable Multimedia Player

vlcVLC A free portable alternative to Windows Media Player that handles most multimedia formats, including MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, XviD, WMV, mp3, ogg, etc. as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols. It can also be used as a media converter or even as a server to stream in unicast or multicast in IPv4 or IPv6 on a high-bandwidth network.

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Best Portable Linux Distribution

backtrackBackTrack is a Linux-based penetration testing arsenal that aids security professionals in the ability to perform assessments in a purely native environment dedicated to hacking. Regardless if you’re making BackTrack you Install BackTrack, boot it from a Live DVD or thumbdrive, the penetration distribution has been customized down to every package, kernel configuration, script and patch solely for the purpose of the penetration tester.

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